With Monday night’s return of the Marne Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team trail party, the 3rd Infantry Division is essentially home, according to Fort Stewart public-affairs spokesman Kevin Larson.
Most of the 300 soldiers who marched onto Cottrell Field were with the 4th IBCT’s 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment. Larson said they represented the last of the Marne Division’s combat troops deployed to Afghanistan. Fewer than 500 noncombat troops, such as military police, finance and movement control, remain deployed in the region, he said.
When the soldiers emerged from the darkness, the roar and clamor from their families and friends filled the cold night air. The closer the formation got to the reviewing stand, the more noise their families made. Col. Kimo Gallahue, 4th IBCT commander, halted his formation 10 meters in front of the 3rd ID commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Murray. He saluted his commander and reported his unit’s return, their mission accomplished.
Further down the front rank of the formation, the 6/8th Cav. commander and his command sergeant major uncased the unit’s colors, signifying their unit is home. Immediately afterward, Gallahue and his command sergeant major uncased the brigade’s colors, signifying the Vanguard Brigade is home.
After uncasing the colors, the division commander announced the 3rd ID is home and told the returning soldiers to reunite with their families.
“This was his first combat deployment,” said Robert Boyd of his son, Randy Boyd. “I don’t know his rank. He’s a cavalry scout; I do know that. He used to be a (squad automatic weapon) gunner. Now he’s a radio operator for the (tactical operation center).”
Boyd and his wife, Rose, came from Union, Ill., to welcome their son. They regretted that his twin sister, Robin, couldn’t be there. Being from Illinois, they didn’t seem to think Monday night’s low temperatures were that cold.
The Boyds said Randy wanted to join the Army right out of high school, but he didn’t get the military occupational specialty he wanted. Rose Boyd said she thought he wanted to be a mechanic. Later, when he lost his job, she said he decided to go on in the Army.
“I just want him home safe,” she said. “That’s the bottom line ... I’ve been able to talk with him through Facebook every day.”
Nearby, Karen Jones from Columbia, S.C., held up a large banner welcoming her son, Spc. Tyler Jones. She said this also was her son’s first deployment, and she was thrilled to have him home.
The Norsworthy family from Houston, Texas, held an even large banner for Sgt. Jason Norsworthy. His wife, Jelisa, said she was too ecstatic to describe how she felt. Norsworthy’s mom and dad, Kathy and Wayne Norsworthy, and sister, Sara Schaefe, also were ready to welcome home their hero.
“I’ve never wanted to hug him so much in his whole life,” Kathy said. “He’s 29 now. This was his third deployment. He went to Iraq twice.”
When he did arrive home and located his family among the crowd, Norsworthy found it just as hard to explain his emotions.
“I feel great,” he said, then kissed his wife again. “I’m immensely thrilled to be back in time for Thanksgiving.”